Faculty Status Committee Guidelines and Procedures

This document describes COE's process for conducting the college-level review of faculty promotion and tenure (P&T) cases. Additional information is available in the "Promotion and Tenure Guidelines" section of the Faculty Handbook.

The purpose of the Faculty Status Committee is to provide an independent evaluation of faculty P&T dossiers, made in a manner mindful of OSU guidelines. The purpose of the evaluation is to ensure that individuals who are recommended for tenure or promotion in the College of Engineering “COE” have demonstrated their impact as educators and researchers, as well as their potential for continued and significant impact in the future.

The Committee will use its collective judgment to assess the evidence provided in each candidate's dossier to:

To improve the transparency of the P&T process within the College, the Committee will maintain a publicly accessible website with up-to-date copies of these guidelines, the annual P&T timeline, the COE dossier template, and a list of the current Committee membership.

The Committee is structured to provide fair and equitable faculty representation, reflecting the diversity among units within the college.

While the distribution of membership among units will be established by the Dean's office, only the election of the at-large member will be conducted by the College. Elections for other Committee positions will be carried out by the corresponding units.

While each candidate's case is unique, the Committee is expected to apply a consistent evaluation process that ensures normalization across candidates and units. This is impossible if each unit follows its own timeline and each candidate has a unique interpretation of what is required in the dossier.

The Committee will ensure that its evaluation process is consistent across all candidates at a given rank.

University policy requires that potential conflicts of interest be identified and managed at each step in the P&T process. The Committee will apply the following guidelines:

  1.  Committee Charge
    • verify that each dossier has been carefully and properly prepared, contains all the information required by the University and College, and
    • evaluate each candidate's effectiveness and the potential for distinction or evidence of distinction, as specified in the OSU Faculty Handbook Promotion and Tenure Guidelines. The Committee will prepare a letter documenting its observations and will add the recommendation to the dossier prior to the Dean's review.
  2.  Committee Composition
    • The Committee will consist of approximately 13 people. Each unit (school or department) in the College will be represented, with membership proportionate to the size of the current tenure-track faculty in the unit, plus one at-large member. The distribution of membership will be reviewed annually by the Dean's office, and adjusted as necessary over time.
    • All tenured faculty at 0.5 FTE or above are eligible, with the following restrictions:
      • at least one member from each unit must hold the rank of Professor
      • the at-large member must hold the rank of Professor
      • unit heads are not eligible
      • faculty who will be on sabbatical, or otherwise unavailable during Fall, Winter and/or Spring term, are not eligible
      • members must also meet the conflict of interest criteria specified later in this document for the entire year of service
    • Committee members serve a three-year term beginning July 1, with terms staggered so that approximately one-third of the members are elected each year. Individuals may serve up to two consecutive terms.
    • A Chair-Elect will be elected by the Committee in the Spring term of each academic year, selected from among those members who have at least two years remaining in their term-of-office. The Chair-Elect will assist the Chair in organizing and coordinating Committee activities. At the end of the year, the Chair-Elect will become Chair for the next year.
    • Voting members of the Committee vary by case.  For each case, the voting membership includes members of the Committee who are: i) not from the same unit as the case under discussion; ii) hold a rank above the candidate under review; and iii) do not have a conflict of interest with the candidate under review.
    • While every attempt will be made to schedule meetings so that all members can participate, a quorum will be sufficient to conduct Committee business.  The schedule will be set such that each unit will be represented by at least one person. A minimum of 2/3 of the voting committee members for each case under discussion will constitute a quorum.  All voting members, who are part of the quorum, must vote on the case. 
    • In mid-term cases, a reasonable accommodation to proceed will be made if the conditions of a quorum are not met.
    • All members, regardless of rank, will participate in the review and discussion of each dossier except:
      1. members from the same unit
      2. members with a conflict of interest
    • For promotion cases where the candidate is a non-tenure-track/tenured faculty member, (e.g. instructor or faculty research associate), the Committee can invite an ad-hoc member who is at or above the rank sought by the candidate and who does not have a conflict of interest with the candidate. The ad hoc member participates in the review, discussion, and voting of the case(s). In rare circumstances, if there are no options for an ad hoc member without a conflict of interest and who is above the current rank of the instructor or FRA being considered, an ad hoc member who is at the current rank of the candidate may be invited to review and contribute to the discussion of the case but not vote.
  3. Committee Elections
    • At the beginning of April, the Dean's office will remind the unit heads about which Committee membership terms are due to expire, and whether membership slots are being reallocated to improve representativeness.
    • Each affected unit will be responsible for developing its own slate of candidates and handling its election. All tenure-track faculty meeting the committee composition requirements (see above) are automatically candidates, unless the individual has specifically requested an exemption from the unit head based on potential conflict-of-interest, planned absence during fall, winter and/or spring terms, an unduly heavy load, etc.
    • During the appropriate years, the Dean's office will conduct a College-wide election to fill the at-large position. Again, all eligible faculty will be included on the ballot unless the individual has specifically requested an exemption based on exceptional circumstances.
    • All tenured and tenure-track faculty are eligible to vote, and balloting must be complete prior to the end of April. The person(s) receiving the most votes will serve on the Committee, provided the committee composition requirements are met.
    • Ballot counts will be kept on record to address vacancy issues. Should a Committee member need to step down due to conflict of interest or other reasons, the individual who received the next-highest number of votes in the unit's last election will serve as a replacement. Because it is not practical to introduce a new member in the middle of ongoing P&T or mid-term reviews, replacement will occur only if the new member can be present for all discussions in that particular cycle.
  4.  P&T Timeline and Dossier Format
    • The Committee, in consultation with COE department/school heads, will establish an annual P&T timeline and publicize it to all tenure-track faculty.
    • All COE dossiers will follow a standardized format. A dossier template will be provided to all potential candidates on the Committee website. The template will be reviewed and updated by June 1st of every year, or as required by changes to the University process. A corresponding mid-term dossier template will be maintained for third-year reviews.
    • It is the responsibility of the candidates and units to ensure that the latest dossier format is used, all required information is provided, and materials are prepared in accordance with University guidelines.
  5. COE P&T Review Process
    • Evaluations will be conducted on the basis of the evidence provided in the candidate's dossier. If clarification is needed on particular informational points of a case, the committee may choose to solicit input via direct questions to Committee members from that unit (who are present, but otherwise silent, during discussions) or from the unit head (who is not present).
    • Mandatory P&T cases will be evaluated at the end of fall term and/or the beginning of winter term. Non-mandatory cases will follow the same timeline. Third-year review (mid-term) cases will be evaluated near the beginning of each spring term.
    • Occasionally there is need for conducting out of cycle reviews. Since timing is often critical, some of the normal requirements may be modified in these cases, consistent with OSU policies:
      • The COE dossier template need not be used for the candidate's portion of the evidence; as long as there is clear information provided enabling the Committee to evaluate the candidate according to the relevant criteria listed in the OSU Guidelines.
      • For someone without tenure: Independent outside letters of evaluation must be solicited. Letters submitted as part of the application process may be included as part of the letters selected by the candidate.
      • For someone who already has tenure: Units should solicit explicit input from external evaluators regarding evidence for distinction (letters submitted as part of the application process could be used).
      • At the unit head's discretion, the process may be expedited by (a) reducing the time external reviewers have to respond, (b) requesting that the unit committee accelerate their review, and/or (c) suggesting that the unit committee use a quorum in lieu of a full vote.
      • If a full quorum of the Committee cannot be convened, absent members may be allowed to submit their assessments and recommendation in writing.
    • In the interests of communicating information back to the units, a debriefing with the unit heads and the Dean will be scheduled at the end of each academic year. The Committee chair will provide a post-mortem summary of the issues raised during Committee deliberations and convey suggestions for improving transparency and consistency.
    • The College-level guidelines and procedures will be reviewed and modified in spring term, after all mandatory and mid-term reviews have been completed. Proposed changes to the guidelines and procedures can be brought forward by any Committee member, the Committee Chair, or the Chair-Elect. Additionally, faculty or unit heads can also propose changes. The Committee is required to vote on any changes, and only changes approved by two-thirds majority of the committee will be incorporated into the guidelines and procedures. Changes will become effective on July 1 of the year they are approved. The Chair and Chair-Elect are responsible for ensuring the proposed changes are consistent with University policies. Any changes to the College-level guidelines and procedures will be communicated at the debriefing meeting with unit heads and the Dean.
  6.  Managing Conflict of Interest
    • Spouses/partners/relatives of a candidate will not serve on the committee during the year when the candidate is evaluated.
    • Close collaborators must declare a conflict of interest prior to the initiation of any discussion on the case. Close collaborators of a candidate will be recused from the discussion and vote.
    • A candidate's supervisor will be recused from the discussion and vote.
    • Committee members who are from a candidate's unit will be present for the discussion, but their role is to answer direct informational questions from other members (rather than to offer general commentary or opinions). They will not participate in the vote.
    • A candidate's discussion will be led by individuals from two units, neither of which is the candidate's.